For many long-term care providers, dealing with funding cuts that began in March has amounted to making the best of a bad situation. Automatic sequestration cuts are trimming Medicare payments by 2%, while many complementary programs are being held back or halted. That's the bad news. The really bad news is that things are likely to get worse.
Healthcare journalists may have fallen inadvertently into triggering a Pavlovian response in our readers: We write "hospital readmissions" and you click.
Less than a year ago, Gary Gamponia and his benevolent bandmates broke onto the national scene with a McKnight's blog entry about the way they play concerts at nursing homes for free. Boy, is it time for an update.
The senior citizen population is on the rise in the Southwest. Unfortunately, so is a frightening illness: valley fever.
Many long-term care operators have begun to put wellness programs in place. And by most accounts, they seem to be working out well so far. But do wellness programs really work? The short answer appears to be that we don't know.
In recent times, federal deficit spending has only gotten worse. But now that it appears there are some bright spots, it's a bad thing? Depends on whom you talk to.
Whether you are an employee, resident, citizen or member of another group, you can learn from the lessons I've learned while exhaustively investigating a story about running and saving county nursing homes in America.
If you hang around long enough, you learn there are only two things long-term care providers fear after Republicans and Democrats. That would be hospitals and doctors.
The "For Sale" sign outside my grandmother's house caught me by surprise last Saturday.
We're hearing a lot lately about mandatory drug testing in the workplace. It appears that the Tennessee Supreme Court might be a good place to put such a requirement in place. The state's highest court recently upheld a bizarre worker's comp claim against a skilled care operator that defies logic, common sense, and perhaps even the law.
As we've been predicting here for some time, allegations of mismanaged therapy care are starting to land nursing homes in some seriously hot water.
While at a post office recently, I watched a woman cut in line to demand the clerk fix the automated posting machine. A fight broke out between her and the man at the front of the line: Voices were raised, threats were issued and I kept my hand on my phone, waiting to dial 911 if violence erupted.
First of all, to all the pro-union and pro-management types: Thanks for reading. Too bad only one of you can be happy after Tuesday's federal appeals court ruling that tossed a National Labor Relations Board decree. But it ought to be that way.
Intrepid Daily Show correspondent John Oliver recently headed Down Under. His assignment: Find out how Australia's strict gun control measures have played out since being passed in the mid-1990s. It occurred to me that Oliver might be able to repeat this trip in the future, only instead of reporting on Aussie gun control, his subject might be the country's move away from CPR in nursing homes.
It's your turn to risk having an excited staff. Starting today, the second annual McKnight's Excellence In Technology Awards program is officially underway.
We live in a nation that worships people associated with success. We tend to name buildings, highways and even states after such high-level achievers. Perhaps rightfully so. They are the few who show the rest of us what the so-called right stuff is all about.
The years of cuts to federal scientific grants has been a travesty, and I don't use that word lightly. The often-mocked duck reproduction project is an example of putting a small amount of money to fund basic scientific knowledge.
Bully for provider groups pulling out the stops to draw attention to the ludicrous mishandling of "observation stay" designations by many hospitals. One prong of the plan is to have providers supply anecdotes about individuals hurt financially and emotionally by the practice.
If you work in long-term care today, you might feel like you're drowning in an alphabet soup of possible deficiency ratings. So forgive me, but let's imagine there's yet one more possible citation to watch out for: the GR.
OK kids, time for an unannounced pop quiz. Here goes: How do Medicaid caps differ from New Coke, Sarbanes-Oxley and hands-free lawnmowers? The other three bad ideas were actually carried out
Street cameras played a major role in identifying the two brothers who allegedly bombed the Boston Marathon. In the wake of this helpful development, public support is growing for expanded use of cameras in high-congestion areas.
Behold, readers: There's a new work of literary fiction that takes place in a long-term care facility.
I almost feel like I'll need to find a confessional booth after completing this blog post. I come not to bury the Green House project but to praise it. This is tough to do.
As any retailer will tell you, advising customers to shop elsewhere is never easy. Yet that is exactly what too many senior living operators should be doing - but won't.
You might not be old enough to remember the "Schoolhouse Rock" videos that aired between cartoons on Saturday mornings during the 1970s. One of my favorites was "I'm Just a Bill." Long-term care novices could learn a lot from it — to a point.
When it comes to talk about palliative care and rehospitalizations, what should a provider do when the family is insistent on sending their loved one back to the hospital?
How could we not see it coming? That's the question I asked myself Tuesday.
I was sympathetic when the Partnership for Sustainable Health Care called for a speedier shift away from fee-for-service last week — and I also thought about Purell. Yes, that Purell.
Billionaire Warren Buffet famously once said he had two rules for investing. The first was to make money. The second was to remember the first.
When my mother was undergoing treatment for breast cancer around 15 years ago, a good friend of hers would call and start crying.
It was welcome news Tuesday to learn that the confirmation hearing for the person who could officially wind up holding the purse strings for most nursing home payments was civil. Even better was the nominee saying she would look into the ridiculous state of affairs concerning hospital observation stays.
Attention all strivers and overachievers. You should slow down and not push yourself too hard, two new studies suggest.
Reader's Digest magazine recently published an article called "50 Secrets a Nursing Home Won't Tell You." I'm a bit dismayed by the lack of evidence that's actually presented.
Long-term care operators are understandably giddy about the sudden prospect of immigration reform. But they might want to curb their enthusiasm.
If you're a gambling person, it looks like the odds just got a whole lot better for Marilyn Tavenner becoming the next administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That's the person who manages the main funding streams of long-term care in the United States.
Have you thanked anyone at work today? If you have, you've done something very powerful.
This publication and this sector were facing some very troubled times in 1990. That's when I joined McKnight's Long-Term Care News. The experts have a technical term for where the field and the magazine were at that time: barely alive.
One of the occupational hazards of being a journalist is that you often have to distribute bad news. But every so often you get to share something that's a bit more cheerful. This is one of those times.
Government agencies and lobbyists are famous for conducting studies that prove a point — theirs, namely. That's why I'll be very interested to see who will have the courage to conduct one of the most important long-term care-related studies that should be completed over the coming year.
In healthcare, there's a knee-jerk fear that admitting a mistake or error in judgment will lead to a lawsuit, and so an excuse is made. While it's important to hear someone out as to their reasoning for, say, a resident care plan, there is a difference between explanation and excuse.
We must change the conversation around long-term care, dispelling myths and encouraging people to speak frankly and plan realistically for the needs of people as they age.
There are some tangible signs that things are getting better for the senior living sector, and probably for the overall economy as well.
Here's the good news for providers: new analytics are making it possible to understand and bill your care in ways that would have been impossible just a few years ago. Here's the bad news: The government is quite aware of these new options.
A provider conference session this week was called "Using War Games to Cope in Uncertain Times." Its subtitle could have been "Act Like a Long-Term Care Organization, Think Like a Hospital."
Even after a few weeks, it still seems like a bad joke. Maybe something pulled from the front page of The Onion, the satirical newspaper that has been lampooning revered subjects for years.
Here's a conundrum: The rate of post-traumatic stress among Vietnam veterans has climbed from already high levels in recent years, with the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq War serving as triggers. This potentially increases the caregiving burden on families as these veterans age, and increases veterans' need for long-term care.
In a nutshell, troubled long-term care operators seem to be encountering this scenario with managed care companies: initial romance, followed by heightened accountability and reduced payments.
Alzheimer's disease is very good at taking. It takes away memories. It takes away personalities. It can be argued that Alzheimer's essentially takes away a person's essence. And as almost anyone who has spent time in a senior living facility can tell you, it can also take away sexual inhibitions.
It's not a secret that employees who work in healthcare, whether they are medical journalists or nurses, don't always earn gold stars when it comes to managing their own health. Witness the nurses clustering in a "butt hut" outside a facility, an administrator taking a cavalier approach to his or her diet, or saleswomen wearing sole-killing heels at a conference.
There are plenty of legal concerns that keep nursing home administrators awake at night. Many times, the demons can be kept under the bed or locked in the closet. But not always.
Some of us could live to be 150.
I was hoping to get clear answers about the sector's future at the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry's regional meeting last week in San Diego. I did, but I also must admit there were times when it was hard to give the various speakers the attention they deserved.
Ever wonder how much regard the White House has for long-term care operators? A brief filed last week makes the answer abundantly clear: very little.
The international attention over the incident concerning an independent living facility's refusal to give CPR, as a matter of policy, has inspired a lot of clutching of pearls regarding long-term care's medical ethics. There were a few big facts that got left out of the original reporting.
Nobody should pass up the opportunity to have a nationally respected professional expert visit his or her office. The chance to get six in there in a short amount of time? Outrageous. Yet, it's going to happen.
McKnight's Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman recently raised some thought-provoking questions about how "women manage women" in long-term care facilities with largely female staffs. Her blog got me thinking along some other lines as well: Male-female and male-male conflicts may become increasingly common as skilled nursing facilities become more gender diverse.
McKnight's Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman recently raised some thought-provoking questions about how "women manage women" in long-term care facilities with largely female staffs. Her blog got me thinking along some other lines: Male-female and male-male conflicts may become increasingly common as skilled nursing facilities become more gender diverse.
There's an adage about insurance coverage: While the big print giveth, the small print taketh away. Genworth Financial — one of the nation's largest long-term care insurance carriers - is giving the phrase a new twist.
Let's pretend that you work in a facility or company with mostly female employees. I know, it's a stretch. When conflicts arise between two women, what do you think?
The 87-year-old man who said he tried to kill an assistant living supervisor because he felt "bullied" will not be prosecuted for shooting the long-term care employee once in the stomach.
Is it a nursing home ... or a prison? That sounds like a shady lawyer trolling for clients, but it's an urgent question for the residents of Rocky Hill, CT. And it may be a pressing question for communities across the country in the near future.
If there's one thing long-term care operators contemplating the coming years should know by now, it's this: There are no guarantees. That's worth keeping in mind as various can't-miss strategies that ensure future success are being pitched your way.
Well, here we go again. Less than three months after President Obama and Congress narrowly avoided walking off a fiscal cliff, we're bracing for Round 2. Only this time, we're all a bit worse for wear.
If it were the stock market, the climb would indicate a lot of people becoming quite wealthy. Instead, its significant rise will have to settle for merely making a lot of people more healthy.
Amour isn't just a movie about an elderly couple. It also thoughtfully provokes questions about how families interact when confronted with long-term care situations. It also raises questions for caregivers.
Earlier this week, we saw lawmakers again take aim at Medicare's outpatient therapy caps. Rightfully so. Therapy caps are a dubious idea that ought to be given a decent burial.
If you're like me, you're a big believer in the saying "Attitude determines altitude." If you're in the eldercare business, this should become embedded in your mind — for the good of those on your watch.
February seems like an appropriate month to ask the fundamental question: What does it take to be happy?
The late Hunter S. Thompson famously said that when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. By his logic, the management and workers involved in a strike across five HealthBridge Management facilities in Connecticut seem to be taking professionalism to a whole new level.
Many a provider broke out in cold sweats when the Family and Medical Leave Act was cobbled together two decades ago.
The news flashed across my screen and immediately I said to myself, "This type of headline could be very bad for nursing home operators ... or maybe just kind of bad."
In the roundup of best Super Bowl commercials, the one that best relates to your lives didn't air. No, I'm not talking about the elderly people escaping from the nursing home to go eat Taco Bell, although I'm sure that's something that keeps your security people up at night. Or the Clydesdale: Brotherhood commercial, my personal favorite even though it makes me cry every time I watch it.
More than 110 million Americans watched yesterday's Super Bowl in New Orleans. It's not too hard to see why the game has become our nation's defining cultural ritual. The National Football League also could give us the nation's best chance at progress against Alzheimer's disease.
It is no secret that long-term care operators and other senior care providers love a good, money-making ancillary service to take care of their residents and firm up the bottom line. That's one reason why hot nursing home "news" out of Britain this week might have actually had some long-term care stakeholders excited at first blush.
Around 4 a.m. a few nights ago, I woke up feeling miserable. As I curled up back in bed after taking some meds, one of my cats hopped up next to me, looked at me with concern and laid a paw atop my arm.
McKnight's Daily Editor's Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor on Monday and Friday; Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman on Tuesday; and Editor James M. Berklan on Wednesday.
James M. Berklan
Elizabeth Leis Newman